Dan Duda, CEO and former president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, will retire after 40 years from the six-generation family-owned company effective Dec. 31. His brother and fourth-generation family member, Sammy Duda, will continue to lead Duda Farm Fresh Foods as president.
During Dan Duda’s tenure, the company transitioned from a commodity business to a well-known consumer brand with value-added operations that have gained exceptional growth. The Dandy brand has more than doubled in market penetration, with 80 percent market share in retail fresh cut celery.
“As I reflect on the past 40 years, I’m so thankful for my time with the company and furthermore it’s people,” Dan Duda said. “The Duda Farm Fresh Foods family along with the fresh produce industry have been an integral part of my career, and I will miss everyone dearly. I know Sammy will continue to offer exceptional leadership and propel the company forward with innovation and excellence.”
Under Dan Duda’s leadership, the Dandy brand has built a robust online presence through social media communities including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. He was an integral part in bringing online social engagement to the brand, resulting in more than 500,000 total connected shoppers who actively interact with Dandy.
He oversaw the celery research and development that gained traction to allow Duda Farm Fresh Foods to begin exporting proprietary celery seed varieties internationally. This was necessary to create the best tasting fresh cut celery on the market and differentiate the Dandy brand from its competitors.
“For the past 30 years, Dan and I have worked closely together, traveling, visiting with employees and touring our various operations,” said Bart Weeks, chief operating officer of A. Duda & Sons Inc. “It’s been a pleasure getting to know Dan professionally and personally, and I look forward to working closer with Sammy as he continues to lead the company as president. I, along with the Duda Farm Fresh Food employees and customers alike, will miss Dan’s passion for the fresh produce industry along with his outstanding leadership, and we wish him the best in his much earned and deserved departure.”
Outside of the office, Dan Duda also held many volunteer leadership roles throughout his career. He donated his time to work with groups such as the Southeastern Produce Council, United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association, and encouraged his team to become involved as well.
Duda Farms is headquartered in Oviedo, Florida.